Dash is a really good listener.
Not necessarily in the “Listen to what I’m saying and then behave accordingly” way, or the “You just asked me a question, now please can you not interrupt while I answer it” way, or even the “I just told you I was going to have a shower so why are you shouting the house down for me?” way. But he loves listening to a story and he’ll last a gratifyingly long time and appear interested while his father or I explain something long and involved. (Of course, his father’s explanations are always concise and pithy and never go off at tangents.) (That was a marital jibe. You can just ignore it.)
Anyway, since he has the misfortune to have two parents who quite enjoy pontificating on many given subjects, it’s nice that he’ll listen; unlike his sister who cuts us off with a blunt “I’m not listening any more” after the first two minutes or so.
And there’ll come a point – and to be honest, I’m lucky we haven’t reached it yet – when my opinion will be dismissed, at least on first hearing and in public. I’ll keep voicing it, like Chinese water torture, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned as I get older, it’s that my mother, dammit, was right about most things, but it might not be acknowledged for a long time, if ever.
Right now, though, is the time when my children will cite me as an authority to their friends (second only to their teachers, of course): “My mom says ___” has weight and they’re happy to quote me on any subject. (They might misquote me, but that’s a risk I have to take.) They’ll see the world first through the prism we, their parents, give them, even more than through the filter their peers provide.
As time goes on, the influence of friends will increase and anything I say will be met with automatic suspicion and cynicism, because it will be the case that I don’t know anything about anything that’s relevant to a teenager’s life. I was not actually ever a teenager myself, and anyway it was so long ago and so far away that it doesn’t even count any more. My opinion will stay there, tucked away in the back of their minds, niggling, maybe, but not – never, no way – proudly stated as fact the way it is now.
So now is a good time to tell them everything, about everything, as much as I know. Can I pummel 41 years of hard-earned wisdom and discoveries into an 8 year old and a 6 year old? I suppose I can try, but they’ll go and make their own mistakes anyway. And then a long time afterwards, they’ll say “Mom was right” and I’ll have the last laugh, just like my mother before me.